The Arizona Diamondbacks, who are set to open a four-game series on Monday against the visiting Miami Marlins, are hoping to get their bullpen on track.
Arizona, which finished an 0-6 road trip with Sunday’s 4-2 loss to the New York Mets, is set to start right-hander Luke Weaver (1-3, 6.07 ERA) on Monday. Weaver is 0-2 with a 5.54 ERA in four career appearances against the Marlins, and that includes a 0-1 record with a 13.50 ERA in his one start at Miami this past Wednesday.
But while Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo is hoping for more from Weaver, it’s the bullpen that is an even bigger concern. Entering Sunday, only three teams in the majors had a worse bullpen ERA than Arizona’s 5.18. And no team in the majors had a worse conversion rate on save opportunities than Arizona’s 4-of-12.
Stefan Crichton, whose combination of a hard sinker and curve makes him hard to barrel up (just 1.4 percent last year), has settled in as Arizona’s closer. He had five saves in five chances and a 2.42 ERA in 2020.
This year, his ERA has climbed to 4.35, although he is 3-for-3 on save chances.
But beyond Crichton, the rest of the bullpen has issues, too, with no established roles.
Lovullo said he is hoping relievers Joakim Soria and Chris Devenski — both of whom have recently returned from the injured list — can settle in as regular contributors.
“We haven’t had established roles because we’ve had so many injuries,” Lovullo said. “We’ve had a revolving door, and I’m trying to put guys in the right places to have success.
“I think the guys are open minded to where they are used. It’s more a mindset of making pitches and executing.”
In Sunday’s loss to the Mets, the Marlins’ bullpen showed improvement, allowing two runs, one earned, in five innings.
Another issue for Arizona has been its base running. Asdrubal Cabrera, for example, has been thrown out four times this season while trying to stretch a single into a double.
The Marlins had similar issues in their 2-1 loss on Sunday to the Milwaukee Brewers as Corey Dickerson and Miguel Rojas were both picked off first base.
Miami, which has lost two straight games after having its four-game win streak snapped on Saturday, has yet to announce its starting pitcher for Monday.
The last time this turn came up in Miami’s rotation, reliever Ross Detwiler served as the opener, pitching two perfect innings, striking out three. Four more relievers followed, and Miami walked away with an emphatic 8-0 win.
After a 1-6 start this season, the Marlins have played solid baseball, including a three-game sweep over the visiting Diamondbacks May 4-6. Miami outscored Arizona by a combined 20-4 during that series.
Miami’s recent run of success has come without its best starting pitcher, Sixto Sanchez, who has yet to pitch this year. For much of the past month, the Marlins have also missed half their starting lineup: catcher Jorge Alfaro, rookie second baseman and speedy catalyst Jazz Chisholm, third baseman Brian Anderson and center fielder (and former D-Backs standout) Starling Marte.
Anderson has since returned, and Chisholm and Alfaro appear to be close to getting back in the lineup.
“We’ve had three solid starting pitchers,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of his trio of Trevor Rogers, Sandy Alcantara and Pablo Lopez.
Other than that, it’s been a bullpen day, which is likely what Arizona will face on Monday.
Offensively, Miami is looking for continued success from center fielder Lewis Brinson, who went 3-for-4 with a solo homer on Sunday.
–Field Level Media